Special IAF aircraft carrying mortal remains of 45 Indians killed in Kuwait fire takes off for Kochi

MoS for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who coordinated with Kuwaiti authorities to ensure swift repatriation, is onboard the aircraft.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 14, 2024 | 10:33 AM Updated Jun 14, 2024 | 10:33 AM

IAF aircraft carrying deceased Indians mortal remains

A special IAF aircraft carrying the mortal remains of 45 Indians killed in the tragic fire incident in Kuwait took off for Kochi on Friday, 14 June, morning.

At least 49 foreign workers were killed and 50 others injured in the fire on Wednesday, 12 June, at the seven-storey building where 196 migrant workers were staying in the southern city of Mangaf.

“A special IAF aircraft carrying mortal remains of 45 Indian victims in the fire incident in Kuwait has taken off for Kochi,” The Embassy of India in Kuwait posted on X.

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who coordinated with Kuwaiti authorities to ensure swift repatriation, is onboard the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution in Kuwait ordered the provisional detention of a citizen and some expatriates on charges of manslaughter and accidental injury as a result of negligence in security and safety measures to prevent fire, the Arab Times newspaper reported.

Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has ordered authorities to provide compensation to the families of each of the 49 deceased persons.

Kuwait Fire Force on Thursday, 13 June, said the deadly fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.

Construction firm NBTC group rented the building for the stay of more than 195 workers, most of them Indians from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and northern states, the Kuwaiti media said.

Also Read: Denied permission to visit Kuwait for fire relief efforts: Kerala minister Veena George

‘EAM did a good job coordinating’

Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi on Friday said that the External Affairs Ministry did a “wonderful” job in coordinating the efforts to ensure treatment of the Indians injured in the Kuwait fire tragedy.

The Minister of State for Tourism and Petroleum also said that he has cancelled his other programmes for the day and would be going to the international airport in Kochi, to receive the bodies of the Malayalees who died in the Kuwait fire tragedy.

Meanwhile, Kerala Revenue Minister K Rajan told reporters in Kochi that the bodies of 23 Malayalees, 7 Tamilians and one person from Karnataka would be received here, before the flight carrying the mortal remains of the other Indians who died in the fire goes to Delhi.

Rajan said that arrangements have been made for public display of the mortal remains at the airport and thereafter, they would be sent to the families by ambulances that have been arranged by the Department of Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs (NORKA).

He said that if extra ambulances for transporting the bodies of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka natives were required, the Health Department was ready to arrange it.

“We have also arranged a pilot vehicle for each of the ambulances,” he said.

Rajan also said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other state ministers would be arriving at the airport in Kochi.

Earlier, while speaking to reporters, Gopi said that the External Affairs Ministry was “pressed into service” to intervene diplomatically and ensure proper treatment of the injured Indians and repatriation of the mortal remains of those who died in the incident.

“They are doing it wonderfully,” he added.

45 Indians dead

Officials in Delhi said the C-130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force will bring back bodies on Friday and it will first land in Kochi as most of the deceased Indians are from Kerala.

The aircraft is then expected to reach Delhi as some of the Indians killed are from a few north Indian states, they said.

Kuwaiti authorities have already conducted DNA tests on the bodies as part of the identification process.

In a press statement on Thursday, it said the conclusion was arrived at after examination of the scene of the incident, Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah, serving as the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defence, said that authorities have identified 48 bodies, among which 45 are of Indians and three are of Filipino nationality, English language daily Arab Times reported.

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who reached Kuwait this morning, separately met the Gulf nation’s foreign minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, Al-Sabah and Health Minister Ahmad Abdelwahab Ahmad Al-Awadi.

On Thursday night, Prime Minister Modi reviewed the situation at a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Principal Secretary to PM PK Mishra among others.

Following the meeting, the prime minister announced ex-gratia relief of ₹ 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund and directed that the government should extend all possible assistance.

Related: Kuwait fire tragedy: Pall of gloom descends over two Kottayam families

(With PTI inputs)

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